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Connecting with your teen seems obvious but letting your teen know you love them is the first step in creating a relationship and learning how to connect with your teen. Saying “I love you” is free and takes about 3 seconds. Hand it out like the world ends tomorrow.
Hug them, give them that big embarrassing kiss on the cheek, shout your love for them across the school courtyard. Don’t assume just because you’ve said it their whole lives they know it. Remind them daily!
A parent’s love is one of the only constants in a child’s life, let that be known. You’re not perfect, and neither are they, but you still have a bond that will last forever. In the toughest moments, you both are going to need each other to pull through.
Say ‘I love You’
Your teen may get tired of hearing you say it, they might not say it back every time,(don’t be petty and not say it because they don’t respond) and there might be a few times that they tell you to stop. However, when it comes down to it, they’ll remember that you were always there, telling them you loved them unconditionally. Don’t forget you can say I love you in other forms too. Find out their love language. (This is a great book)
Take an Interest in them
Be curious about their endeavors, ask questions. If your teen is overly passionate about something healthy for them, encourage them and try to become passionate yourself. Believe it or not, this is a great way to stay connected with them. This could be something the two of you do together. Learn about their interests so that you can actually have conversations about what they like.
- Music lover: Buy some of their music tastes and listen to it with them, go to a concert together. Try writing music together or singing to karaoke. Be silly!
- Art lover: If they love to paint, buy supplies and do it with them. It doesn’t matter if you suck they’ll appreciate the thought. Maybe ask them for pointers. You could even do those Paint classes together, online or in person. Those are a ton of fun and you both leave with something to remember the time.
- Sports Enthusiast: Go to an event. Watch it on television (or youtube). Get them some equipment and take them to a park and do it with them.
- Anime: Grab them anime books, movies and watch them with them. Learn about the characters.
- Movie enthusiast: Get them tickets to the movies and go once a month with them. Share opinions on it.
- Journaling Enthusiast: There are tons of things you can buy for them to add to their journaling from journals, stencils, clips, stickers, etc. You could also do a mother-daughter journal (enjoy this journal with your daughter) and write one another.
As you can see there are a ton of ways you can connect with teens. Some kids just like to hang at home with you, others may like an adventure like Go Ape (where you literally climb on ropes in the trees), or Axe throwing, fishing, etc. Just engage with them, give them your time.
Connect with Your Teen By Learning about Their Hobbies
You might even be brought back to your own childhood. A teen’s hobbies are sure to stick around throughout their life, and if you’re a big part of that hobby, you’re sure to be a big part of their life. This isn’t true for all hobbies, of course – some will come and go.
My younger kids like to play D&D, Pokemon and Magic cards. I tried playing D&D, they know I don’t have that kind of mind but they appreciate the fact I’m trying. We do board games every month at the local game store where we rent out the top floor just to play. This shows them we want to spend time with them. Board games give us all a way to hang out and try new and old ones. I do play Pokemon Go so we can go on walks together catching them all. (Gotta CatchEmAll)
Cheer Your Teen On: Be their Biggest Fan
Be an inspiration, a supporter, a cheerleader, and that one parent screaming from the sidelines at the soccer game. If they need help on something you’ll know and be able to try to help. My kid needed help kicking the soccer ball, we got out there and did it all the time. My kids know if they need a partner, I’ll jump to it. Even if I suck!
They’ll appreciate it in the future, and it gives you both something to talk about. Trust me, that the first time you miss, they will notice. I remember the time my parents were at my Mock Trial event, I was very proud of myself. But I also remember the time they weren’t and I kept looking back to see if they’d walked in later. Try your best to always be there, it does matter to them whether they say it or not.
Cheering them on doesn’t mean just in their sports or activities, but in their grades. If they need help hire them help or start to learn it yourself so you can reach out to them. My son was struggling in his French class, I grabbed index cards and wrote the words on the front in French and the other side had the English word. I quizzed him this way. His grade was raised and he now knows I’ll help him, even if I don’t know the language. Encourage them in every part of their life!
Talk to them, it’s important!
Talking to your teen is the best form of connection you can do. Ask questions, crack jokes, tell stories, let them know they can confide in you. Mine love to hear stories about things I did at their age. My 14 yr old asks “Mom, let’s talk.” I ask him what about and he replies to your childhood at my age, or a time you went on a picnic with your friends.
Communication is super important when it comes to any personal relationship. Isn’t that what you want with your co-workers, parents, siblings, friends or spouse? Nowadays people are lost behind tiny screens. I’m not kidding look around. Go to a restaurant and scan the room. It’s sad. Technology is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but texting isn’t as sentimental as face-to-face communication – and it never will be.
Talking to your teen is crucial to having a good relationship. If you can get them to laugh and smile with you, you’re doing great. You’ll never know who your teen really is if you let them hide behind their phone, laptop or closed door. It’s amazing how much you can miss about someone who lives right there with you when you don’t actually indulge yourself in them.
Keep in mind the bible verse, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.“- Matthew 6:21 Where is your heart? What do your kids think you focus on most? Let them know that they have your heart, they are important to you. They need to know this, especially in those teen years.
There are so many stories that people have to share, no matter their age and enthusiasm. All of that can evaporate over text. You can learn just as much from your teen as they can learn from you. Sometimes a text gets others into arguments due to not understanding the tone. In-person, you get a much better feel of who a person is, who they really want to be and what they are actually saying. The eye rolls are sure to come (that’s any child with their parents, I’m sure you did it too), but don’t let that phase you, at least you’re getting a reaction!
Make Time for Your Teens
Make time for your teens. One-on-one time with each teen is important, especially if you are doing something they really enjoy. This is the perfect time to reconnect and learn things about them you might not otherwise know.
The most valuable thing you can offer anyone is your time. Your children are deserving of that. As people grow older, they grow apart. However, it’s important to always remain close to your teen. If you have more than one teen, be sure to carve out one-on-one time with each of them whenever possible.
Spending time with your teens is a great way to build an everlasting bond and teach them good habits simultaneously. Find something they like and do it with them. Sports, coffee, the mall, shopping, science… it doesn’t matter if they like it find something about it you like. Here’s a starter, THEM.
Example: I have 5 kids, each one is different. 1 I could go shopping with, another was movies, a third loved coffee and the bible. The last two, will be sports, video games and activities, which means this momma needs to get into some type of shape (hey it’s for them and me right?), learn about the sports they like and try my best at playing video games.
Remember that you’re their parent. Although you might want to be your teen’s best friend, you have to keep in mind that you’re an authority figure. Most teens don’t need another friend, they need you there as a parent: to teach them, to love them, to help them grow. Don’t mistake your bond for a friendship, it’s much stronger than that. You are MORE than their friend.
Stick with Boundaries
While it is important to connect with your teen you still need boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries is part of being a parent, and is another way you can strengthen the connection you have with your teen. While the “you’re the worst parent EVER!!”s may flow when you first start setting boundaries, they will thank you later when they have matured into responsible, respectful adults. Okay, so it’s not always that easy, but teens need healthy boundaries. You aren’t doing them any favors if you let them run all over you because you’re afraid to make them upset.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Open communication is definitely needed between parents and kids. Keep an eye on your teen from a distance if they start to pull away. Never force your teen to sit down and talk to you for extended periods of time if they’re pulling away – this can just make things worse. Simply letting them know you’re there for them is key.
Watch Your Teen for Signs that They May Need Help
If you notice your teen starting to pull away, don’t just assume they’re being a normal teen and are fine. While not every teenager suffers from depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, those things are prevalent in this age group.
A therapist who specializes in adolescents can help if you feel your teen may be dealing with issues you’re not equipped (or being allowed) to handle. If you notice they lack self-esteem, this workbook could help with a bit of it.
It is not always easy being a parent of a teen, but once the two of you have found some common ground things can get a bit easier to maneuver. The bonding you are doing now will be well worth it later in life. Connect with your teen today.